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Fall is Coming!

Kelly McCombs - Saturday, September 16, 2017


Fall is just around the corner and what better way to enjoy this gorgeous season than getting a jump start on all things Autumn!



First on the list should always be apple picking, especially in September. This is the perfect month to pick because the orchards all have a large variety of apples ready to go! There are numerous apple orchards in the Saratoga area, many of them offering pick-your-own, which means you get to pick which apples you want right from the trees! My favorite orchard is Bowman Orchards. They boast 46 different varieties of apples on almost 100 acres! On top of the apple picking, they have berry picking hay rides, apple cider donuts, and plenty of fun activities for everyone in the family. They even have a plethora of different farm animals for you to pet. They say their trees are lower to the ground so picking ladders are generally not needed, making this an exceptionally family friendly orchard. Bowman Orchards is quintessential “Fall” to me and a must see!



It wouldn’t feel like Fall without a trip to your local Farmer’s Market. With the change in the season comes a change in the many different kinds of produce that are available. Now is the perfect time to visit the Saratoga Farmer’s Market before it moves inside for the cooler months, starting in October. Not only do they have a huge selection of different fruits, vegetables, and flowers, but they also offer many vendors that sell local meats, cheeses, jams, and even crafts and other various items. The Saratoga Farmer’s Market runs every Wednesday from 3-6pm and every Saturday from 9am-1pm at the High Rock Park Pavilion in downtown Saratoga Springs.



One thing I always do each Fall season is go “leaf peeping”. This is a funny way of saying I go for a drive around to view the gorgeous Fall foliage! Some of the best places to see the magnificent change in colors on the trees is up in the Adirondacks and also in Vermont, specifically Brattleboro and Grafton. These are two towns I have visited in Vermont strictly for the purpose of seeing the foliage, but they offer so much more, as well! From hiking, to beautiful historic houses and apple cider donuts, I have made some of my favorite memories here!



Along with apple picking, one of my other favorite Fall things to do is go pumpkin picking! We always go to Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke. It is very easy to spend the whole day here, exploring the Farm and all it has to offer. They are known for having the Capital Area’s original and largest corn maze. It is huge! Liberty Ridge Farm also has a General Store where you can purchase things like homemade pies, apple cider donuts, and many other souvenirs. They have pig races, a giant pumpkin cannon, and a live band…there is so much to do! In addition to all of this fun family-friendly stuff, every Friday and Saturday night beginning in October, Liberty Ridge turns into Nightmares at Liberty Ridge. If you are feeling brave and like terrifying things, than this is a must-see. Nightmares boasts 7 different haunted attractions that are all sure to have you quaking in your boots. Liberty Ridge Farm is the perfect Fall destination for the young and old alike!



We hope you take some time this Autumn to get out and explore the many fun and exciting things to do in our area. We are lucky enough to have many wonderful events, so take advantage of the cooler weather and get out there!


July 4th Festivities

Kelly McCombs - Saturday, July 01, 2017


Independence Day is right around the corner and we have compiled our annual list of some local fireworks displays! We are lucky to have many fun and family-oriented events take place in our area. We hope you are able to take part!



Saratoga Lake Fireworks Display

When: Monday, July 3rd

Where: Saratoga Lake in two locations, at The Water’s Edge and at Brown’s Beach



Saratoga’s All-American Celebration

When: Monday, July 3rd and Tuesday, July 4th

Where: Downtown Saratoga Springs


*Saratoga’s All-American Celebration is two days jam packed with events for the whole family. Everything from a fireside chat with Ben Franklin, a great children’s program, the historic city tour, a classic car show, a parade for the kids…all the way to the culmination of the celebration with fireworks in Congress Park on July 4th. There is even a sidewalk sale! This is my favorite 4th of July event and one that I go to every year.



July 4th Celebration in Clifton Park

When: Tuesday, July 4th

Where: Clifton Commons, Clifton Park


*This celebration ends with a wonderful fireworks display, but you don’t want to miss all of the other fun things you can do earlier in the day. There are amusement park rides, food vendors, a parade, and even a craft show. Something for everyone! The parade begins at 12pm on Route 146 in fron of the Shenendehowa School Campus.



Lake George 4th of July Fireworks

When: Tuesday, July 4th

Where: Shepard’s Park in Lake George



New York State’s 4th of July Celebration

When: Tuesday, July 4th

Where: Empire State Plaza, Albany


*This is one of the largest fireworks displays in the area and one that comes highly recommended. More than 20,000 people attend this event every year, so be prepared for large crowds. Due to the high volume of people, parking might be a little harder than usual, so make sure you show up early. The evening starts at 3pm, with live bands, a naturalization ceremony, and food and craft vendors, culminating in one of the most impressive fireworks displays in the area!



We hope you enjoy Independence Day with your friends and family!


Our Favorite BBQ Recipes

Kelly McCombs - Friday, June 09, 2017

(Photo: @bigbarbecue on Twitter)


Starting tomorrow and running through the weekend is one of our favorite events of the year, The 15th Annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party! Held in Madison Square Park in New York City, this is a charity event that benefits the Madison Square Park Conservancy. In past years, more than 17 barbecue pitmasters were in attendance serving up some of the best BBQ in the country, making this one of the country’s premiere barbecue events! The event is free to attend and food is sold by the plate. This event has had over 125,000 visitors in the past, so lines can be long. However, the food is well worth the wait! In honor of the event, we thought we would share with you some of our favorite Summer BBQ and grilling recipes. We hope you enjoy the weekend!

Bruschetta Chicken


Ingredients:

4 tbsp. oil

Juice of 1 lemon, divided

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to even thickness

3 Roma tomatoes, diced

4 slices provolone

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine oil, juice of ½ lemon (about 2 tablespoons), 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and Italian seasoning and whisk to combine. Transfer to a large re-sealable bag along with chicken. Seal and chill, 30 minutes.
  2. Transfer chicken to a preheated grill and discard excess marinade. Grill chicken over medium-high heat until cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes on each side.
  3. Combine diced tomatoes and remaining juice from ½ lemon. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. While chicken is still on grill, top each breast with 1 slice Provolone and cover grill until cheese is melted, 2 to 3 minutes. Top chicken with tomato mixture and serve.

Campfire Potatoes



Ingredients:

2 lb. mini Yukon gold potatoes, quartered

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. dried oregano

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 c. shredded mozzarella

1 c. freshly grated Parmesan

Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Crushed red pepper flakes, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high, or preheat the oven to 425º.
  2. Cut 4 large pieces of foil about 10” long. In a large bowl, toss potatoes with olive oil, garlic powder, and oregano and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Divide potatoes between foil pieces, then fold the foil packets crosswise to completely cover the potatoes. Roll the top and bottom edges to seal them closed.
  4. Place foil packets on the grill and cook until just cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle mozzarella and Parmesan on top of the potatoes and reseal the foil packet. Cook until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.
  6. Top with parsley and red pepper flakes and serve warm.


Spicy Grilled Shrimp



Ingredients:

1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil

6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tsp. celery seed

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

2 tbsp. whole-grain mustard

2 lb. large easy-peel shrimp

2 lemons, 1 thinly sliced and 1 halved

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Combine oil, garlic, celery seed, and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until garlic is golden, sizzling, and fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Whisk in mustard and transfer to a bowl; cool completely.
  2. Add shrimp and sliced lemon to oil mixture. Season with salt and black pepper; toss to coat. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour.
  3. Heat grill to medium-high. Grill shrimp and lemon slices until lemons and shrimp are lightly charred and shrimp are just cooked through, 1 to 3 minutes per side.
  4. To serve, transfer to a platter and squeeze lemon halves over top.


Grilled Potato Salad



Ingredients:

3 lb. baby Yukon gold potatoes

Kosher salt

Black pepper

6 tbsp. olive oil, divided

6 slices center-cut bacon cut into 1/2 in. pieces

2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped

1/4 c. apple cider vinegar

2 tsp. firmly packed brown sugar

8 scallions

2 tbsp. fresh marjoram, plus more for garnish

Directions:

  1. Heat grill to medium-high. Line a plate with paper towels.
  2. Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold salted water by 2 inches. Cover and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until easily pierced with a knife, 14 to 16 minutes. Drain and let cool. Transfer to a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of oil.
  3. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove to prepared plate with a slotted spoon.
  4. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings from skillet. Off the heat, add garlic, vinegar, and brown sugar to the drippings in the skillet, scraping up any browned bits. Whisk in remaining 4 tablespoons oil. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl.
  5. Grill potatoes cut-side down until lightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes. Grill scallions, turning occasionally, until charred, 4 to 6 minutes. Chop scallions into 1-inch pieces.
  6. Add potatoes, scallions, and marjoram to bowl with dressing, and toss to coat. Let stand for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with bacon, and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with marjoram. Serve immediately.

Beer Braised BBQ Pork Butt



Ingredients for Dry Rub:

2 tablespoons salt

About 40 grinds black pepper

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons ground mustard seed

12 ounces good ale or dark beer, such as Bass

4 cloves garlic, chopped

One 5-pound pork butt

Ingredients for BBQ Pork Butt:

1/2 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

Directions:

  1. Combine rub ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Rub all over pork butt. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour and as long as overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Unwrap pork and place in a roasting pan with sides about 2 inches high. Cook 45 minutes until dark browned and even blackening in places. Remove from oven. Lower oven to 325 degrees F. Pour beer over the top and add chopped garlic around the pork. Cover tightly with heavy duty aluminum foil or twice with regular foil. Poke about 10 holes all over the top of the foil. Cook pork butt 2 1/2 hours longer until so tender that it comes away very easily from center bone.
  3. Place the meat on a plate and pour the pan juice into a saucepan.
  1. To the pan juices add the ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer until reduced by half and thick, about 20 minutes.
  2. While the sauce is boiling down, pull apart the pork with 2 forks. Pour the sauce over the pulled pork and work through until fully absorbed.

Local Events

Kelly McCombs - Saturday, November 05, 2016



Photo courtesy of Saratoga Farmers Market



Looking for something to do in and around Saratoga this weekend? The weather is supposed to be crisp and beautiful, so why not get out of the house! Keep on reading for some of the events that are on our list!



The Saratoga Farmers Market is moving indoors for the winter starting today, and they are hosting a delicious tasting event to celebrate! Located at the Lincoln Baths at Saratoga Spa State Park, the "Taste of the Market" will give market goers a wonderful opportunity to sample a variety of cheeses, fruits, vegetables, sweets, meats, and many prepared foods that the market vendors offer. There will also be cooking advice and recipes, too! The market runs from 9am-1pm today (Saturday). Don't miss out on your chance to try a ton of wonderful samples!



If you are a winter sports enthusiast, make sure to check out the Northeast Ski and Craft Beer Showcase, being held at the Empire State Plaza today 10am-6pm and tomorrow 10am-5pm. Formerly known as the Albany Ski and Snowboard Expo, this showcase is New York's largest and longest running winter sports show, heading into it's 55th year! You'll be able to check out the best in new ski and snowboard equipment and fashion, along with some pretty fantastic destinations! There will even be prizes to win! Tickets are $10 at the door and make sure to bring extra cash to take part in drinking some delicious craft beers!  



Who doesn't love a good barbecue wing? If you fancy yourself a wing connoisseur, then you don't want to miss the Capital Region Wing Wars 13. Held in Troy at the Franklin Terrace Ballroom today until 5pm, a ticket to Wing Wars will only cost you $25. This will give you the chance to sample two wings from each of the 15+ vendors, which is over 30 wings per person! Make sure you are prepared for some seriously spice wings, as some of the vendors like to kick it up a notch. There will also be beer and wine for sale, a DJ and free pizza! All proceeds go to St. Jude the Apostle School tuition assistance program. 



And finally, if you feel like taking a bit of a drive, head on up to Lake George to drive the Prospect Mountain Memorial Highway. There will be no fee to drive here today and tomorrow, so take advantage and enjoy some spectacular views from high above Lake George in the Adirondacks. 



We hope you enjoy the beautiful weekend ahead and get the chance to attend some of these fun Fall events! 





Local Fall Activities

Kelly McCombs - Saturday, October 01, 2016

With the start of October brings all of the fun outdoor Fall activates that are plentiful in the Capital region! We are lucky enough to usually have beautiful weather and colorful changes in the leaves, which makes this season one of our favorites! We have put together a list of some of the best local Fall activities for this year!


Topping the list is apple picking, of course! There are numerous apple orchards in the Saratoga area, many of them offering pick-your-own, which means you get to pick which apples you want right from the trees! My favorite orchard, and the one I go to every year, is Bowman Orchards. They boast 46 different varieties of apples on almost 100 acres! On top of the apple picking, they have hay rides, apple cider donuts, and plenty of fun activities for everyone in the family. They even have a plethora of different farm animals for you to pet. Bowman Orchards is quintessential “Fall” to me and a must see!


On October 29th this year, is the much loved 15th Annual Saratoga Fall Festival. The event runs from 11am-4pm and is free to attend! There is live music, trick-or-treating, food vendors, a petting zoo, and even a magic show! This is one of my favorites because it’s fun to see everyone out in Downtown Saratoga Springs enjoying the cool weather and Fall activities!


Along with apple picking, one of my other favorite Fall things to do is go pumpkin picking! We always go to Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke. It is very easy to spend the whole day here, exploring the Farm and all it has to offer. They are known for having the Capital Area’s original and largest corn maze. It is huge! There are two phases of the maze; Phase 1 for the younger crowd and Phase 2 for the more adventurous folks. They offer a game at the start of the maze that gives you hints and clues to help you find your way through. Liberty Ridge Farm also has a General Store where you can purchase things like homemade pies, apple cider donuts, and many other souvenirs. They have pig races, a giant pumpkin cannon, and a live band…there is so much to do! In addition to all of this fun family-friendly stuff, every Friday and Saturday night in October, Liberty Ridge turns into Nightmares at Liberty Ridge. If you are feeling brave and like terrifying things, than this is a must-see. Nightmares boasts 7 different haunted attractions that are all sure to have you quaking in your boots. Liberty Ridge Farm is the perfect Fall destination for the young and old alike!


If you are up for a little physical activity and are wanting to see all of the beautifully changing leaves, I recommend hiking up Prospect Mountain in the Adirondacks. The hike is approximately 4 miles in length round trip and is great for experienced hikers and those with no experience. The summit offers spectacular panoramic views of Lake George and the Adirondack region and is the perfect place to hike during the Fall to take part in leaf peeping. Before I head out to Prospect Mountain, I always check the foliage report here. This great website lets you know when to expect to see the best colors in various areas in the state.


Our final favorite Fall activity is visiting our local Farmer’s Market. With the change in the season comes a change in the many different kinds of produce that are available. Now is the perfect time to visit the Saratoga Farmer’s Market before it moves inside for the winter. Not only do they have a huge selection of different fruits, vegetables, and flowers, but they also offer many vendors that sell local meats, cheeses, jams, and even crafts and other various items. The Saratoga Farmer’s Market runs every Wednesday from 3-6pm and every Saturday from 9am-1pm at the High Rock Park Pavilion in downtown Saratoga Springs.


We hope you take some time this Autumn to get out and explore the many fun and exciting things to do in our area. We are lucky enough to have many wonderful events, so take advantage of the cooler weather and get out there!


Things To Do in Seattle

Kelly McCombs - Friday, August 19, 2016


The last city we visited on our travel adventures was San Francisco. We thought, why not head on up the coast and check out Seattle? Located on Puget Sound in Washington State, Seattle is surrounded by thousands of acres of parkland, which is why it is dubbed the “Emerald City”. It has an eclectic and cultured scene with a variety of things to see and do, perfect for everyone in the family.


The most iconic image of Seattle has to be the Space Needle. Originally built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Space Needle is an observation tower that overlooks the Seattle skyline and the Olympic and Cascade Mountain ranges, including Mount Rainier. Visitors reach the top of the needle by elevators and can stand out on the observation deck to take in the breathtaking views. The Space Needle also has a restaurant at the top, called SkyCity Restaurant. If you want to impress someone, take them here. The views are some of the best on the West Coast!


If you are looking to get away from the hub-bub of the city, take a stroll through Seattle’s Arboretum. This is an absolutely gorgeous place to take a break from the world. Nooks and crannies abound in this delightful mix of gardens, pathways, streams and bridges. Your mind is sure to relax and forget your troubles in a place like this! The Arboretum is gorgeous at any time of year, as new and different plants will be blooming, the leaves will be changing, and the snow will make it look like a fairytale. One of my personal favorite places!


If you happen to be in Seattle on a hot, sunny day (sometimes a rarity in rainy Seattle), head on over to the International Fountain. Located in Seattle Center, this is another piece of architecture that was built for the 1962 World’s Fair. It was completely remodeled in 1995 to make it much safer and child-friendly. Now, children (and adults!) can play in the bowl of the fountain and even walk right up to it. Make sure to bring your bathing suit to enjoy this Seattle mainstay!


If you’re in the mood to peruse fresh veggies, beautiful flowers and other unique handmade and grown items, Pike Place Market is a must-see. This market boasts being the longest continually operating public market in the entire country! If you are looking for some fresh fish, there is no better place to buy some. Watch your head as you go through the fish market. You might see fish flying above it! Even if you don’t want to buy any fish, it is still worth the trip to the fish market to see the fish mongers throw huge fish in the air to one another. The entertainment factor alone is worth it! You could spend hours at this market looking at the thousands and thousands of different items. There are even a few restaurants if you wanted a break from walking.


Our final stop on our tour of Seattle is the Woodland Park Zoo. Originally a private collection of animals on the estate of Guy C. Phinney in the late 1800’s, the city took over the collection and estate upon his death. The zoo has a vast array of exhibits and ranks second to New York’s Bronx Zoo in the number of exhibit awards received from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. There are over 300 different animal species on the 92 acres that the zoo encompasses. It is open to the public every day of the year except Christmas. If you have children, this would be a fun place to explore. Fun and educational, all at the same time!


These are just a few of the wonderful places to see on your visit to Seattle. This city is so full of life and culture, it is one that everyone should take some time to see. Stay tuned next week, when we talk about some of our favorite eateries in Seattle!


What To Do This Weekend?

Kelly McCombs - Friday, June 24, 2016

This week, we thought we would feature two local festivals taking place this weekend. It is officially summer and what better way to spend your weekends than out in the gorgeous weather experiencing new things and making memories?




First up is the Adirondack Wine and Food Festival. 2016 is the second year for this fun event and it is one you will not want to miss. It is even bigger than last year, with over 60 NY State craft beverage producers and food vendors. You will be introduced to numerous wineries, breweries, distilleries, local food vendors, craft vendors and food trucks. Tickets are $25 in advance and $35 at the door. You will receive a free wine glass with the purchase of your ticket, which you can use to sample all of the delicious craft beverages. This is the perfect opportunity to try before you buy and perhaps find something new that you might like. The event is being held at the Charles R. Wood Festival Commons in Lake George, NY on Saturday, June 25th from 11am-6pm and Sunday, June 26th from 11am-5pm. A plus to this event is that a portion of all ticket proceeds goes directly to the SUNY Adirondack Foundation, which provides financial support to the college and its students in the form of scholarships and staff development grants. If you're a wino or just like to try new things, this is the event for you!




                                              Photo: Saratoga Performing Arts Center www.spac.org




If you are a fan of music, you have to go to the Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival. This event is one of the most celebrated and longest running jazz events in the world. It is also the most popular jazz festival in the local area and one of the most looked forward to events in Saratoga for the summer! This event is sure to be a good time and is being held at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Saturday, June 25th and Sunday, June 26th. Gates open at noon but the line starts to form long before that time, so make sure you get there early! If you go, you can look forward to performances by 20 world-class jazz artists, including Smokey Robinson! Performances will be held on two stages, with the larger acts performing on the main SPAC stage and the new, up-and-coming acts performing in the Gazebo. A plus to this event is that coolers are allowed in the venue, so you can bring all of the food and drink that you want. Ticket pricing is included in the link above.



We hope that you take advantage of the beautiful weather this weekend and get to go to one of these events! Stay tuned to the blog next week for some travel essentials!


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